I've been hired to make a website and am working with a designer (who happens to be the guy who is in contact with the client and hired me, so no, I can't kick his ass out =) ) who's too afraid to touch into the php code, and is too newbie in html and css to give me good enough models, so the work of today will be going through his new html model of a half-programmed page and removing <div>s and changing classes and the such.

Is there some kind of tool, or some better workflow in order to make this easier for both of us? Maybe I'm dealing with this the wrong way altogether, I'm new to web development, and I don't know enough HTML/CSS (and he supposedly does) to have him just give me a graphic mock-up and do the whole thing, so what we're doing is he gives me a static HTML page that looks like he wants, and I put <?php ?> around it =)

Can anyone give me some advice on this?

  • tough question...
    – davin
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 19:29
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    If you're been hired to make a website, you need to know HTML and CSS.
    – SLaks
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 19:32
  • No, he's doing the html/css design, I decided to go this way (injecting php into the templates) because it's the best I could come up with (give me an example of how it should look like, I lookup the database and fill in the details), I'm asking if there's another (a better) way of doing this. And I'm learning some html/css on the way, I'll be able to do this for my next job. I'm a VERY fast learner =) Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 20:00
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    Design and development are two completely different skillsets. The best designers I have met were not software engineers, but they could put together $15k websites for high-dollar clients. So if the designer knows more HTML/CSS than you do, then you have a lot of catching up to do. Rememeber, it's not his job to do the coding, that's what you're supposed to be here for.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 21:39
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    I typically find that it is better for the designers to stick to designing, and stay out of the HTML/CSS. Most of the designers I work with have a grasp of what works on web and what doesn't. About as far as I ask them to go is specifying CSS font attributes they used in the original PSD. I take it from there. It's a logical split and works well. You need to know HTML and CSS.
    – Brad
    Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 3:33

6 Answers 6


I used to do freelance front end development, my workflow went something like this:

  1. Define things your client is providing you and things you will deliver to your client. Be sure to include what specifically they're paying you for and what the deliverables are. Setting expectations is VERY important.
  2. Have them provide any assets you need to do your job. In my case this was usually a PSD of the design, as well as additional PSDs for pages/interfaces that differed from the standard layout. Font files should be included when providing said PSDs.
  3. Slice, dice, and code up the design in plain' ole' HTML/CSS.
  4. Stub out any javascript needed for user interfaces (AJAX, fancy effects, etc, etc)
  5. Code up the logic you need to back up any dynamic functionality within your site. AJAX calls that need endpoints, database interaction, and server setup all fall under this step.
  6. QA. Make sure everything works as defined in step one, iterate over 2 to 6 as needed.

Web designers should not usually have to touch the PHP code much, if at all.

Usually designers develop the visuals in some graphics package (where needed), usually Photoshop. Build the HTML/CSS for a static version of the content, with alternate content for dynamics also built. Then the programmer tends to take this and make it dynamic. Failing that, where complete separation is desired, the programmer lets the designer know what variables are available to the code and have something in place for building the HTML for looped sections.

Designers can usually get away without knowing the coding languages needed, the programmers providing dynamism to the site usually need to know what the HTML/CSS is doing in order to manipulate it properly.

If both designer and programmer are no good at HTML/CSS, then God help you.

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    Some sort of templating system is key here, but +1 for the line "If both designer and programmer are no good at HTML/CSS, then God help you."
    – Nicole
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 20:14
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    Usually designers develop the visuals in some graphics package Yeah, some third-world-country "designers" that you can find on rentacoder. They do just everything (code, sysadmin, graphics)... quality is horrible and working this way resembles more a child's play than a real work. Asking graphician to do HTML is like asking copywriter to do assembler.
    – Slawek
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 20:15
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    sadly enough not all of us have been blessed with being born in the united states or europe, and each and everyone has to make do with what he can. I'm from a "third world country" (Argentina) and if I don't know how to do this is because I've been busy programming in real languages Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 20:47
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    @Lacrymology - Don't get discouraged. Everyone has to start somewhere. Just know that because of your lack of experience, you may make some mistakes in this project. My suggestion is to be flexible, and maybe find an expert to help QA your code and give you tips and advice. I would recommend a good HTML Validator, like the HTML Validator extension for Firefox, which will help keep your HTML clean and professional.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 21:42
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    @Slawek: I have found over many years, that regular graphic designers can not design well for the web. You need technical designers, who fully appreciate the capabilities and issues involved in HTML rendering, so that their designs lend themselves to HTML building. So I would only ever hire a designer/builder, they are never separate roles for me, sure they can be, but it introduces further headache.
    – Orbling
    Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 2:14

Check css grids, this is really fast to learn for non expert and make page composition really easy.

here are few of them:

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    What do CSS frameworks have to do with server side php code? Or am I misunderstanding your answer.
    – Chris
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 19:52
  • They have to do with the workflow between the designer and the guy which will have to paste the rendering in a CMS. Both of them aren't css experts. At least they'll be able to put elements in the right place and have html prototypes based on same classes.
    – regilero
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 19:54
  • +1 for suggesting a solution that will make life easier.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 21:51

Tend to agree with the general sentiment. It really boils down to the fact that designers and programmers are 2 different camps:

Designers: Typically arts majors in College, they were taught how to build pretty things, color coordination, animation, etc...

Programmers: Typically Computer major of some sort, taught Sciences and/or Busienss their whole lives.

Therefore teaching a designer to code is akin to teaching an Eskimo how to surf...they just don't have the background though it might happen if you push hard enough.

  • ok, Iḿ not asking him to code, just asking here if there's tools or ways of doing this better. If the design had been done with when I started programming this, the story would've been quite different, but he's needing to change things as we go Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 20:41
  • @Lacrymology - Sometimes things just have to change as they go. That's just the way web development works. I can imagine it being completely different from the gaming industry; the rules are just plain different here.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 21:50
  • everything changes as it goes.. games do. A lot... too much Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 5:26

You could outsource the html/css conversion of the design. What I don't get is why isn't he creating the markup first, and then having you inject php into the templates?


Web designers, graphicians should NEVER, EVER touch ANY CODE. No HTML, CSS, PHP(!), JavaScript, NOTHING.

Repeat that 100 times, then if it won't work repeat it 1000 times AGAIN. And developers / programmers should NEVER design GRAPHICS.

That's unprofessional and i have seen a MESS done by graphician for so many times. Usually it'll work in one browser and code quality is as in following example:

<ul class='list circle float'>  
 <li class='red bold'>text...</li>
 <li class='red'>text2...</li>
 <li class='red'>text3... <a class='pink link' href='http://codelikeshit.com'>i code, do vector graphics and manage linux servers, i'm a F* Einstein and Van Gogh combined!</a></li>

Really unusable for anything else, but contact+photo like website of local bakery (10-15 visitors in a week).

I'm new to web development,
Hey, that's the problem here. You're probably dealing with professional graphician that knows his stuff (colours, vectors, commercial printing / design)... you on the other hand are a developer that... we'll don't know his job!

Developers that do graphics and graphicians that to DEV. That's just unprofessional bullshit. They can get nothing right. You'll get bad code and the graphic will look shitty.

You should maybe hire a developer, that knows HTML/CSS (well if i'd say "hire a graphician that knows php, i'd sound insane, right?"). You probably think that being a graphician is not a "real" job that's why he can write code and maybe be server administrator, too :)

How to deal with such designers. I'd personally gave him a raise because he obviously know what he's doing!

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    you insult me, my question states my problem quite throughoutly: the guy isn't a designer, but he's the boss, I'm a VERY seasoned programmer, have been making videogames for nintendo for four years, just new to web. I DO NOT try to do designing, and DO NOT let him write code, I just wish he'd be brave enough to go and change the css classes directly on the PHP. Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 20:40
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    @Lacrymology - Why can't you be brave enough to change the CSS classes on the PHP? Again, it's not his job nor are those his skills. Plus, the more you interact with the coding, the better you will be. I'm impressed that you make video games for Nintendo. If you can do that, then you can definitely do this :) Although, I do disagree @Slawek, the best designers I know can code out a website using PHP and/or Wordpress.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 21:48
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    Well making video games is not webdev and i'd really stay in video gaming dev if you can make it. The bottom line is if webdev doesnt know html/css - he doesn't know his job. Your problem is that you think that everyone should be able to program PHP because you do @Lacry: then those designers are really bad programmers that produce spaghetti instead of clean code. Have you heard, eg. of car designers that are also engineers that are making turbine prototypes. Guess not :) When you'll see some projects of a person that only does graphic for living... php/graphicians became mediocre at best :)
    – Slawek
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 22:11
  • @Slawek - I thought your were going to try to tone down your rants?
    – Walter
    Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 2:36
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    @Slawek - then you should have said that instead of the useless rant. When you rant like that, people don't listen. If you want your point to be taken seriously then I would consider toning it down even more.
    – Walter
    Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 11:58

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